Wednesday, June 12

The Best Way to Freeze and Reheat Rice

Like most carbs, rice freezes extremely well. When stored correctly and reheated with care, it’s as if you just steamed a fresh batch in a fraction of the time. But if you’ve been smashing all of your leftover rice into a storage container, you may have noticed that reheating is a struggle. You’ve been making life hard for yourself, but I’m happy to tell you, there’s an easy fix. Here’s the best way to freeze and reheat rice.

Rice comes in a variety of grain sizes, with varying levels of stickiness, but one thing all types of rice have in common is starch. When you cook rice, the grains absorb water, and the starches gelatinize; but when the rice cools down, the starches harden. Leftover rice often gets packed down into a storage container, and those grains end up very, very close to each other. Pop it in the ice box and those packed starches seize up. When you go to add a scoop of the frozen rice to your bowl of soup, you’re faced with a dilemma: hack apart this giant frozen brick and send rice flying everywhere, or thaw the block and shave the outer layers of rice off. Well both of those options suck, and they take up too much time.

The trick to perfectly frozen rice that thaws like a dream is to freeze it in a flat, even layer before consolidating. Lay a piece of parchment paper down on a sheet tray. Scoop the rice onto the parchment lined tray and break it up a bit. It’s okay if some of the rice clings together in golf ball sized hunks or smaller. You could even form single serving-sized clusters, but there’s no need to pack the rice into a particular shape. Keep it loose for faster thawing later. Put the whole tray in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or until frozen.

Place the frozen rice into a freezer bag and seal it. Even if you tried to compact it at this stage, the grains would simply break off from the group and fall loosely to the bottom of the back. Put the bag of rice in the freezer until needed.

Reheating is a breeze if you’ve frozen the rice in loose clusters. Remove as much rice as you’d like from the freezer bag, and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Return the rest of the frozen rice to the freezer. Add a small amount of water to the bowl—about a teaspoon of water for every cup of rice. Cover the bowl with an overturned plate, microwavable lid, or other material you feel good about having in the microwave. The lid should completely cover the bowl but allow for a little steam to escape. Microwave the rice for one to two minutes, depending on how powerful your ‘wave is. Steam should come billowing out when you remove the lid. If it doesn’t, return it to the microwave for 30 second intervals until it’s fluffy, steamy, and hot.

If you’re using frozen rice as a component in something greater, like a cheesy chicken rice casserole, soup, or chili, you can even skip the reheating step. Add the rice into the other hot ingredients, breaking any clusters as needed, and stir until warmed through.

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